Two events set for Tuesday, Sept. 27 will explore civil rights history

The graphic shows two posters and reads

Two University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media events scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 will explore the history of civil rights through the eyes of attendees.

Traces of Elaine: The Lone Black Female Staff Photographer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Elaine Tomlin broke gender and racial barriers by being the first black photographer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Most of her life’s work has been stolen, but participants will learn about her background and work.

A reception and small photo exhibition of Tomlin’s published work will be held Tuesday, September 27 at 6 p.m. at the Powerhouse at 413 S. 14th Street at the corner of S. 14th and University Ave.

The poster for the event

The poster for the event.

PhD History candidate Alysia Steele, an associate professor of journalism at the School of Journalism and New Media, will present some of her dissertation research on Tomlin. Tomlin’s family and friends will be in attendance.

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Steele has reconstructed Tomlin’s career and family history through interviews and limited archival information. Most of Tomlin’s life’s work was stolen from her home, but her son had stored around 5,000 negatives in a basement for 35 years and never looked at them.

What was discovered in Tomlin’s work: Dr. King and Stokely Carmichael marching in the 1966 Meredith March Against Fear, the Poor People’s Campaign with Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential bid, Jesse Jackson and Operation Breadbasket, Coretta Scott King at a memorial service four days after her husband’s assassination (she wears the same veil as at the funeral) and singers like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone to name a few.

Alysia Steele


Steele will share what she learned from her research, how she “found” Tomlin and her family, traced her roots back to the Alabama coal mines, and share thoughts from the Abernathy family, who were instrumental in helping Steele to help.

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The event is sponsored by multiple faculties at the university including the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, College of Liberal Arts, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Department of History, Center for the study of southern culture and the School of Journalism and New Media.

For disability-related assistance for this event, contact Kevin at 662.915.5916 or [email protected]

This is an image from the book James Meredith: Breaking the BarrierMeredith & the Media: The Legacy of an Insurrection

The Overby Center will host Meredith and the Media: The Legacy of a Riot with Dr. Kathleen Wickham, Curtis Wilkie and Sidna Brower, editor of the Daily Mississippian in 1962. Journalist Jesse Holland will moderately.

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Copies of the memorial book James Meredith: Breaking the Barrier will be available for purchase after both events.

The book, published by Wickham, is also available from Barnes and Noble for $15. It includes chapters written by Meredith, Brower, Wilkie, Marquita Smith, Holland, William Doyle, Dorothy Gilliam, William Winter, Henry Gallagher, and Wickham.

Kathleen Wickham


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For disability-related assistance for this event, contact Michelle Martin at 662-915-7146 or [email protected]

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

Tags: Alysia Steele, Best IMC Schools, Best Journalism Schools, Civil Rights, Elaine Tomlin, Featured, Kathleen Wickham, Ole Miss, Photography, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, University of Mississippi

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